My time, experiences and travels during:- 

 Army National Service 1952/1954 

Lance Corporal George F. Staples,REME



Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers

 Formed in 1942.

From the very beginning the newly formed Corps was designated Royal,

Pte Mitchell the 1000th member of the REME Association 

being presented with a special certificate by Major  V. O. Aldred at Honiton

My time in REME, conscripted in 1952, basic training at Heathfield Camp, No2 Training Battalion, Honiton,Devon, like all others before and after me, being treated and abused by those who wished to mould us into soldiers.

Imagine the amount of steel left on that parade ground from the steel studs on all of those boots that have marched up and down with the marching parades that we did. The visits to the NAAFI to buy tins of Kiwi boot polish to melt into the toe caps and iron out the pimples with those "Flat Irons" heated up on the coke stoves. Remember the spit and polish lavished on them to get them to a highly polished finish. 

Entrance to Heathfield Camp as it was in 1952 from the main road (old A30.) Company office can be seen on right with REME flag pole outside.The Parade Ground was further up the road,  up a few steps where the other flag can be seen flying. End of Guard room on left hand side. 

REME, Heathfield, Honiton Parade Ground 1952,where we did our National Service. (initial training,square bashing). 

Picture taken 2002, some 50 years later by Clive Moor, REME showing the parade ground, the curb can be seen as in the earlier picture, the building now has blue garage doors fitted. As Clive mentions, his boots studs must have left many marks on that ground with the constant marching "about turn" practice we did. In fact the ground must be steel re-inforced with the thousands on intakes who have done the "about turn"!!!

7th March 1952. Second week of basic training.


Officer 2nd Lieutenant Morgan, seated Sgt Spears, to his left Lance Corporal Gable, to the right of Officer Morgan, Lance Corporal Draper, to his right Lance Corporal Tooth.

I am standing third row in, fourth in from the right.


REME, Guardroom, Heathfield, Honiton, the cells are still there to the rear.

Picture's taken 2002, some 50 years later by Clive Moor, REME

We haven't been forgotten!! The name of a road on the Trading Estate which was previously No2 Training Battalion REME



Posted after basic training to Huyton, Liverpool, each day went to REME Workshops at Fazackerly, was a watchmaker there in the instrument workshop repairing service watches. We cleaned and overhauled, repaired many service watches from various locations in the North of England

I had previously served an apprenticeship in watchmaking in the West End of London, under the direction of Donald DeCarle,FBHI a leading author and Fellow of British Horological Institute. I was finally involved in Government work repairing and servicing  the Omega 30's and IWC service watches, timing them for final calibration and testing at the Royal Observatory, Hurtsmonceaux, Sussex, On one of my deliveries to the Royal Observatory where they were tested, then issued with certificate before being returned to the various Government Departments, I had the opportunity to meet Sir Harold Spencer Jones, FRS,MA, ScD,FRAS, FBHI.  Her Majesty's Astronomer Royal, he was also President of our Horological Institute.

I was a Member of the British Horological Institute at the time.

Served many months at Huyton and Fazackerly REME Workshops. Was promoted to Lance Corporal.

Reg,Gordon & Myself at REME workshops

The RSM also took different units to the shooting range situated at Altcar for rifle and bren gun training, when rifles were serviced by armourers at our workshops, Altcar Rifle Range was used for testing.     

Having been at Huyton for a period of time this enabled me to see quite a lot of Liverpool and the surrounding areas like Manchester, New Brighton, Wallasey, and Chester. 

Littlewoods Football Pools, issued free tickets to the camp for their dances in Dale Street, many of us would go to their dance functions.  I met one of the girls there, Ellen she was a checking supervisor, we were together for some time, an elderly lady friend of hers owned a flat in Chester, where we could stay weekends if I was not on duty. 

We walked all around the walls of the City of Chester, Ellen showed me round the City which she seemed to know very well, was also saying hello to many friends whilst we were out and looking in shops 

I expect some will remember the Old Tudor Style frontage of the Gaumont Palace, this was a great cinema with a spectacular oak restaurant  (below) and service to spend a romantic evening.


One weekend we took a rowing boat out on the River Dee. There was Eaton Hall fronting the river which was the other-side of the Old Dee Bridge, comprising seven unequal arches and built- about the year 1387, on the site of a succession of earlier wooden bridges and a pre-Roman fording place.
The bridge is mentioned as part of Chester's entry in the Doomsday Book.

Eaton Hall a very nice building with a golf course. During the Second World War, the property was maintained by the Army, then by the Royal Naval College who also maintained the nine-hole course, following the War, then by the Army who took a lease on Eaton Hall as an Officer Cadet Training unit.

I had served well over a year or more, when I received a posting to Gibraltar.

Departure was from Southampton by Ship.



 (4)BORDER   (5)TANGER,    (6)TETUAN